Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Silence of the Lambs - São Paulo

And so it was, Brazil's semi-final match against Germany last night, completely horrifying. I call it "horrifying"; my husband perhaps more rightly put it as "astonishing." I think most Brazilians would not have been surprised to have the national team lose to Germany (as one Brazilian friend put it crassly but directly "we poop our pants when we have to meet that team). 

But how does a team in the World Cup semi-final lose 7-1? That's the score of a first round match when a small-country team meets a titan. Or not. The small-country team (Costa Rica) this year fell to the Netherlands in a penalty shoot-out in the quarterfinals.

Now before I go on, I have to admit that I have not read a single newspaper story this morning in spite of my newsfeed and my house being full of them.  I don't want to know. I do not want to know the superlatives, the mass beating on the chests, the wondering about whether this loss is the bringing down of a political system. Or at least Felipão, our coach, who seemed to have some kind of serious mental issue this time. How he could stick by two players who I will not name, who did nothing, during the whole Cup, I will just never know. As my kids would say: "brain fart." A blog full of farts and poop this is.

You know and I know that I know nothing about soccer. I have said it again and again. As in most organized sports, I don't care who wins in any real sense. I do not go into mourning when the Oakland Raiders lose. Possibly because I only chose to cheer for the Raiders as a 12 year old to annoy my brother. I can't name a single player. I wouldn't be able to tell you which formation they use or who the coach is.

After three weeks of the world cup, though, I can name every player on the Brazil team. I have heard, absorbed and read comments from friends, strangers and of course, BH. In this sense, I have come to care about them a bit. I will never ever forget the bewildered look the camera showed on Fernandinho's face as the fourth goal in seven minutes was scored on the team. I have no other word for how to describe the team: 'bewildered'. Most of us at the house where I watched the game were hoping for a blackout to end the game quickly. Just call it for Germany, and let these poor lost souls go home.

So, you won't find any game analysis here. Okay, I will sum it up like this: Brazil played neither offense nor defense. I don't know what they did. I literally could not watch from the second half onwards. It was 5-0 at the half, and quickly 7-0. If Oscar had not scored a last minute goal, the embarrassment would have been complete. And even then...

We stayed for a couple of hours after the game to chat with our friends to whom I will soon say goodbye as we leave two weeks from today for the USA. The women were much more positive than the men: one wife had been cheering the whole game for the bewildered Brazilians. The other wife came up with a list of four positives about losing as we did. One husband came up with only one positive: at least we didn't lose to Argentina.

And BH? Well, BH was in shock for most of the game. Completely deafeningly quiet. There really was nothing to say. Nothing at all. At the end of the game, he came and sat at the table and listened a bit. Then he went to the kitchen and got a bottle of cachaça and a shot glass. He toasted us, and had a sip. Life goes on.

And Brazil? The streets of this 11 1/2 million population town were quiet. So quiet. Not a single firework. It was if we had been obliterated by an 11-person bomb.  And in some ways, we have been. In some ways, we haven't.

I'll tell you how we haven't been. During the last 15 minutes of the game and far into the nights, Brazilians had come up with jokes and more jokes about the game. In the middle of "disaster" we were laughing. So many are "inside" jokes to Brazil that I won't bother sharing but this is my personal favorite, and the one that brought my husband to tears laughing after the game:

I went to pee, a goal was scored, I flushed, another goal; washed my hands, another goal. I left the bathroom, goal. I sat on the sofa: goal. Can you imagine if I had had to poop?
 7-1. It's astonishing.  That is all. 

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